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Somalia Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

The Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) exerts limited authority outside of the capital, Mogadishu, and President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed's leadership is undermined by personal rivalries, opposition from clans, the semi-autonomous federal member states (FMS), and foreign governments. Disputes between the FGS and FMS stem from candidate selection for the regional elections, the framework for conducting national legislative and presidential elections in 2020–21. Jihadist militant group Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen (Al-Shabaab) will continue to hold large swathes of territory in southern Somalia and conduct mortar attacks and vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attacks and follow-up small-arms assaults in Mogadishu. Targets are international and government assets and personnel, except in Somaliland, which is more secure.The Somali National Army (SNA) is deployed in Jubaland’s Gedo region and it fought against Jubaland security forces around Baladhawo next to the Kenyan border in February and March 2020. Such fighting is likely to continue unless the SNA withdraws from Gedo, which is a precondition of Jubaland’s president, Ahmed Mohamed Islam, agreeing to the election model proposed by federal President Mohamed.Piracy syndicates based in Mudug region in April 2019 briefly resumed targeting commercial vessels to kidnap crew members and demand ransom payments. IHS Markit sources report they have since reverted to more profitable criminal activities. The hijack of the Sri Lankan-flagged tanker Aris 13 in March 2017 is still the most recent successful hijack of a commercially significant vessel since May 2012. Somalia’s economy is heavily dependent on foreign aid and remittances, as well as excise and duty charges at seaports and airports. However, a global slowdown in economic growth is likely to reduce remittance contributions from the Somali diaspora in 2020, and COVID-19 virus-related cargo disruption will reduce expected tax collection from imports and exports.
Last update: September 19, 2020

Operational Outlook

Reporting indicates AS is under increased pressure, particularly in Lower Juba where the village of Janay Abdalla, situated on the MSR linking Kismayo town with Afmadow, was recently reclaimed from AS by Somalian security forces supported by international partners. Adding to the previous reports about AS deployment of a mortar team into Mogadishu and of five 60mm mortar shells being smuggled into the Wadajir District, reports emerged that AS intends to deploy another two mortar specialists, increasing the overall number to approximately eight militants.  With these updates, the likelihood  of IDF attacks in the capital is substantial and likely that the militants can employ more than one weapon system and target different sites simultaneously. Previous threat reporting from Aug 31, identifying two low yield VBIEDs present in Wadajir District and the specific threat against AAIA entry checkpoints remains extant. One unclaimed  airstrike targeted an AS senior commander and a group of militants on Sep 09, in the area of Ammnney, southwest of Jilib town, reportedly killing 17 militants, among them Abdullahi Ali Adnan, responsible for the group's finances in Middle Juba province. A second airstrike may have occurred on Sep 08, six kilometers from the recently liberated village of Janay Abdalla, and reportedly targeted a group of AS militants staging in the area. It is assessed that the second airstrike served a tactical purpose and was conducted in support of ground operations. Two terrorism-related incidents of note occurred this week, the reporting of a VBIED attack on Sep 07, in Janay Abdalla, Lower Juba, and a PBIED attack on Sep 09, in Bondheere District, Mogadishu.

The PBIED incident recorded on Sep 09, which occurred in a high security area in the vicinity of Villa Somalia, is the first spectacular attack in Mogadishu since the complex attack targeting the Elite Hotel on Aug 16. This correlates with an increase in incidents in the capital from five to 13 occurrences this week. This would appear to suggest that AS has regained, to a certain extent, the capacity and intent to carry high profile attacks in Mogadishu, despite the increased pressure it is facing in its core areas and increased security measures in the capital.

Standing out in terms of incidents  garnering public attention was the VBIED incident on Sep 07, in Janay Abdalla village. The incident occurred as Somali security forces, with support from international partners, were setting up a new FOB in the village. According to an AFRICOM statement, one US serviceman was injured and at least one AS militant was killed in the incident. In a related statement issued by the Somalian Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, two SNA soldiers were reported killed and three others injured in the same incident.

Mogadishu saw an increase in reported incidents from five to 13 over the last reporting period, with similar or higher recorded numbers of incidents occurring over the period Jul 17 to Jul 23.The rise to 13 incidents this week ends the downward trend observed in Mogadishu over the last six weeks. In terms of incident types, six IED occurrences, one PBIED, two SAF, three crimes and one HG were reported. Looking at the overall number of incidents in Somalia, the capital witnessed a 27% increase. Of note, three of the 13 incidents occurred in the immediate vicinity of Villa Somalia, which is currently hosting talks since Sep 01 between the leadership of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) and federal Member States (FMS). On Sep 05, unknown assailants threw an IED from a moving vehicle in the vicinity of Sayidka junction, Waberi District. Two civilian bystanders were injured in the explosion. Of note, the location of the incident is in the immediate vicinity of the Somali Parliament close to western checkpoint giving access to the Villa Somalia complex. On Sep 09, a PBIED detonated nearby the Blue-Sky Restaurant, in Bondheere District, killing at least two, excluding the suicide attacker, and injuring at least one other. The site of the explosion is in the immediate vicinity of the National Theater and on the eastern final checkpoint giving access to the Villa Somalia complex. On Sep 10, initial reports suggested that the Villa Somalia complex was the target of an IDF attack. Later, according to a statement coming from a local police spokesperson, the explosions were reported as blast bomb detonations that took place mostly in the Bondheere District, and possibly in few other locations in the city, without causing any casualties or material damage. It is assessed the attack had the objective of disrupting the ongoing political meetings held at Villa Somalia between the FGS and FMS leadership. The remaining IED and HG attacks targeted security forces, and in two instances workers involved in the rehabilitation of the Afgoye corridor road; works managed by a Turkish construction company. All three reported crime incidents were armed robberies targeting civilians. As in most such instances of armed robbery, the assailants were dressed in military uniforms, shot their victims and escaped from the crime scene.

In Southern Somalia, AS continued their campaign of harassing attacks against security forces bases, checkpoints and personnel. The overall number of incidents in southern Somalia increased from 20 to 37. In Lower Shabelle, AS militants attacked security forces positions eight times, in one of the incidents using RPGs to initiate the SAF attacks. All the attacks stayed within the well-established pattern of brief firefights, none lasting longer than 20 minutes, and followed by the AS militants withdrawing from the area.

Bay area witnessed two incidents, one IED and one accident related to UXO. On Sep 04, an IED detonated in the vicinity of Midow village, seven kilometers east of Awndile, damaging a rickshaw, without any reported casualties. The accident occurring on Sep 07, saw seven children killed while tampering with UXO, in the area of Goofgaduud. It is believed that the UXO was a RPG grenade originating from the previous weeks  confrontations between AS militants and security forces.

Middle Juba, Lower Jubba and Gedo witnessed yet another increase in reported activity from previous week's seven recorded incidents to 13 incidents for the new reporting period, including two airstrikes. Ten of the incidents occurred in Lower Juba, one of them being the unclaimed airstrike on Sep 08, referred to in the opening summary. Following the withdrawal of AS militants from Janay Abdalla village on Sep 04, and the subsequent presence in the area of government security forces, the AS militant activity in the area was focused on targeting the security forces with IEDs. Reports also pointed to a large number of IEDs being left behind by the withdrawing militants in order to target and delay any advance further north by the security forces. On Sep 04, at approximately 1045hrs, an IED detonated in the Janay Abdalla area targeting JSF troops, no casualty numbers were available. The same day at approximately 1225hrs, a second IED detonated, targeting JSF troops in the same area. On Sep 05, an IED planted in the canopy of a tree detonated targeting troops in the area of Janay Abdalla. It was not clear if the IEDs used in the attacks were planted by the militants before or after security forces seized control of Janay Abdalla. On Sep 08, another tree canopy planted IED detonated in the same area targeting security forces. Reportedly two JSF soldiers were killed and two others injured in the incident. Of note, and already discussed in the introductory summary, was the VBIED attack in Janay Abdalla on Sep 07. On Sep 09, unconfirmed reports emerged, pointing to a partial withdrawal of the Danab special forces and international partners from Janay Abdalla to a secondary position six kilometers out, leaving in situ a JSF contingent. Aside from the  activity in Janay Abdalla, on Sep 09, in Kismayo, the house of the regional Minister of Youth and Sports was targeted with a HG, however no casualties were reported. Of note was a PBIED attack in Kismayo on Sep 11, when at approximately 1340hrs, a suicide bomber detonated his charge outside a mosque, killing at least two and injuring six others. Among the casualties was the likely intended target, Shafiq Rabi Kahin, the Chairman of Jubaland Chamber of Commerce.

On Sep 09, reports emerged of Danab special forces conducting operations against AS militants in at least three remote areas, in the west, north and eastern areas of Lower Juba. Reportedly during the military operations two AS commanders and 11 militants were killed.

In Middle Juba, on Sep 04, in Saakow, AS militants killed four men accused of espionage on behalf of various foreign and local security agencies. The victim's names were made public and likely the killings were in response to the AFRICOM airstrike of Aug 25 that killed an AS key figure in Jubaland, identified as Abdulkadir Osman Yarow.

In Gedo, following the local authority's statement on Aug 31, by which the province ceded from the Jubaland regional authority, there have been several instances of friction between the various regional and federal forces. On Sep 06, in Belet Hawa, five members of the security forces defected to AS with their issued weapons, the reasons of the defection are unknown and can be assumed as either financial or resulting from the current tensions among armed actors in the region. On Sep 07, a green on green firefight occurred in Belet Hawa, reasons and details of the firefight are unknown.

Central Somalia's number of reported incidents decreased from seven to six; however, the Sep 08 attack conducted by AS militants on security forces locations in Balcad town, 30 kilometers north of Mogadishu, stands out among the rest of the incidents. At approximately 0500hrs, AS militants numbering up to 80 attacked the district administration offices and police station in Balcad town. The attack was initiated with RPGs and followed by an hour-long SAF engagement. AMISOM forces responded with artillery fire once the local security forces withdrew from the area and at approximately 0730hrs, the AS militants vacated the town allowing security forces to regaining control. Additional reporting points to the release by AS of all the inmates present in the police station as well as to possible abductions among the town's residents. Regional authorities announced in the aftermath of the incident the deaths of 14 AS militants, one solider and injuries to at least seven civilians. In Galgaduud province of the Galmudug regional administration, on Sep 04, AS militants and AMISOM troops from Djibouti engaged in a firefight, in an area approximately 15 kilometers southwest of Dhusamareb town. After a brief exchange the AS militants withdrew from the area. Later during the day, around 2000hrs, unconfirmed reports point to an instance of RPG or IDF rounds impacting in Dhusamareb town. Mudug province saw two incidents, both related to previous week's fighting between AS militants and the local residents of Shabeelow village. On Sep 04, in the Garbaale area, nearby Shabeelow, AS militants and local villagers engaged again in a firefight, however the number of casualties is unknown. On Sep 07, security forces deployed in the area to support the locals and prevent further AS attacks were targeted with an IED on the road linking Shabeelow with Bacadweyne.  

In northern Somalia, Puntland witnessed two incidents, both in the Nugal province and both clan related. On Sep 05, in the southeastern Waberi area of Garowe town, a man from the Jareerweyn clan shot and killed a member of the Isse Mohamoud clan, escaping from the scene in the aftermath. On Sep 06, in northwest Garowe town, in the area of the road linking Garrowe with Bulsho, a member of the Midiban clan shot and injured a member of the Isse Mohamoud clan over a personal dispute. The assailant escaped from the scene.

Somaliland saw no security related incidents over the reporting period.

This week's political focus remained concentrated around electoral issues. The Puntland and Jubaland leaders present in Mogadishu since Sep 01, were joined on Sep 09, by the leaders of Galmudug, HirShabelle and South West federal member states. On Sep 10, after an informal lunch meeting between President Farmajo, all the FMS leaders and Mogadishu Mayor, Omar Filish, it is expected that the formal meeting will start on Sep 12 and a final agreement will be signed on the electoral process system and date.

Last update: September 16, 2020

Terrorism

Severe

The Somali National Army (SNA) and regional African Union Mission in Somalia are conducting a joint offensive to secure supply routes in southern Somalia. The SNA is unlikely to retake significant territorial control or obtain full responsibility for security operations during 2020. Al-Shabaab fighters are likely to target pro-Islamic State forces in the northeastern Puntland state. However, the Islamic State's presence is unlikely to be completely eradicated, with its operations being geographically limited and focused on assassination of commercial and government personnel. Bosaso port is likely an aspirational target for both groups. IED attacks in Mogadishu occur at least monthly, targeting the airport, hotels, police stations, and government buildings.

Last update: September 15, 2020

Crime

Foreigners, including aid workers, and journalists are very likely to be targeted by jihadist militants and violent criminals throughout southern Somalia, even when they are escorted by armed guards in the capital, Mogadishu. Jihadists also engage in the extortion of businesses and development projects in the capital and typically assassinate business persons and damage property as a means of enforcement. Aviation operating from Aden Adde International Airport in Mogadishu has previously been targeted by person-borne IEDs. Somalia has no effective national laws or policing measures to counter organised criminal activity.

Last update: December 3, 2019

War Risks

The Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) is undertaking arbitration at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over a maritime boundary dispute with Kenya. If the ICJ rules in Somalia's favour, Kenya is very unlikely to escalate militarily by seizing oil blocks located within the disputed 150,000-square-kilometre area. The next ICJ hearing is on 4–8 June 2020. Following the escape of the Jubaland regional state security minister from federal custody, he and around two hundred of his fighters fought against Somali National Army troops in Gedo region. If the security minister travels to Jubaland's regional capital, Kismayo, there will be an increased risk of small-arms fire to aircraft at Kismayo airport.

Last update: March 6, 2020

Social Stability

High

Rivalries between 1,000-member militias from the Ogaden and Marehan clans likely will escalate in Jubaland state following the disputed re-election of the regional president in August 2019, should the Federal Government of Somalia reschedule elections or detain regional President Ahmed Mohamed. Although both scenarios are very unlikely, each would trigger protests outside government buildings in Kismayo – including at the airport – likely involving edged weapons and small-arms in fighting with security forces. If the Jubaland security minister returned to regional capital Kismayo after fighting Somali National Army (SNA) troops in Gedo region, there would be an increased likelihood of small-arms fighting between SNA and Jubaland troops at Kismayo airport.

Last update: March 6, 2020

Health Risk

Extreme

Vaccinations required to enter the country

Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required for all individuals traveling from a country with risk of yellow fever transmission.

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.

Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Yellow Fever: A vaccine is available for children over the age of one year.

Other Vaccinations

Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).

Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).

Meningococcal Meningitis: For prolonged stays, or in case your travels will put you in close contact with a local population affected by an epidemic of the disease (for children over the age of two years).

Malaria: Recommended preventive medication - mefloquine (sometimes marketed as Lariam) or doxycycline (sometimes marketed as Vibramycin).

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Transportation

Very high

Roads throughout the country are in poor condition as they are generally neither maintained nor lit at night and traffic lights are rare. As such, driving can be a dangerous activity; it is advisable to avoid all road travel after nightfall. Additionally, landmines and IEDs are an ever present danger.

Illegal roadblocks, highway banditry, and other violent crime can occur at any time in any locality. When traveling by car, doors should be locked and windows rolled-up. 

All road travel should be undertaken with an armed escort, in a convoy, and in an all-terrain vehicle. Always travel with sufficient stocks of water, food, and fuel, as well as the necessary equipment to deal with breakdowns (spare tire, jumper cables, etc.). Always carry an effective means of communication and back-up.

Operations at Mogadishu's Aden Adde International Airport (MGQ) are regularly suspended with little to no warning. Additionally, the airport and aircraft operating out of it are susceptible to attack, as was the case in February 2016, when a bomb was smuggled onto a flight. Security procedures and checks have been enhanced at MGQ; however, the fact that a bomb was able to be carried onto the plane in the first place indicates Al-Shabaab may have agents employed within the facility.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Infrastructure

Cuts to water services and power outages are common across the country.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Practical Information

Climate

Somalia has an arid climate which is slightly more temperate along the coast.

There are two rainy seasons, from March to May and again from September to December. The air is very hot and dry between December and February. In the north, temperatures are generally higher than in the rest of the country and the region also receives less rain. The coastal regions are very dry. During the summer months, monsoon winds bring slightly lower temperatures.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +252

There are no emergency services in Somalia.

Electricity

Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Last update: April 5, 2019